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  • Crazy for Cranberries

    Cranberries

    With the holiday season upon us I seem to have cranberries on the brain, so it should come as no surprise that one of my all-time favorite ingredients happens to be Cranberry Seed Oil. Why am I so enamored with the oil from this super fruit? When the fruit is cold pressed the resulting oil is rich in tocopherols, tocotrienols (Vitamin E) and phytosterols (plant sterols). Vitamin E is really a family of eight different isomers consisting of 4 tocopherols and 4 tocotrienols. The Vitamin E constituents found in Cranberry Seed Oils contain significant levels of alpha and gamma tocopherols and alpha and gamma tocotrienols. All of these isomers of Vitamin E provide excellent antioxidant protection and help to reinforce the barrier lipid properties of the skin.

    In addition, Cranberry Seed Oil contains high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids; including those that are essential to your health, such as the Omega-3 fatty acid also called alpha-linolenic acid. The 1:1 ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 essential fatty acids gives Cranberry Seed Oil its excellent antioxidant activity and skin nurturing benefits, but also explains why this oil absorbs very nicely into the skin and helps it hold onto moisture by contributing to the skin’s structure and barrier formation. This moisturizing power of Cranberry Seed Oil makes it perfect for aging, rough, dry, and scaly skin.

    We all know that free radical damage and inflammation are two potent drivers of skin aging, so being able to address these two issues with a topical antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent goes a long way in preventing premature aging of the skin and repairing some of the existing damage. The high antioxidant potential of Cranberry Seed Oil makes it an excellent addition to any nighttime treatment product where it can help scavenge free radicals while promoting skin repair – as well as in daytime sun protection products to provide antioxidant benefits along with sunscreens for photoprotection of the skin.

    It’s no wonder cranberries are considered a super fruit! Not only do they provide topical benefits for the skin but they taste delicious, and provide similar benefits when consumed in our diet.

  • You Are What you Eat

    Basket fruit and veggies

    This age-old adage may have been dismissed over the generations as somewhat of an old wives’ tale, but in fact it is deeply rooted in a real biological connection between our bodies and the food we eat. With technological advances, we are better able to understand how micro- and macro-nutrients really affect our health on a cellular level. This notion has even spurred the formation of a Center of Excellence for Nutritional Genomics (CENG) at the University of California, Davis. Nutritional genomics takes advantage of our knowledge of the human genome to better understand the diet-health relationship. In essence, nutritional genomics is the study of how foods affect our genes and how our genes affect our response to nutrients in our diet – an offshoot of the emerging epigenetics field (which is the study of how our overall environment can change our genes).

    So then, if we really are what we eat…what should we be eating for healthy skin? Macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and lipids) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) work together to ensure a properly functioning epidermal barrier against environmental assaults. The skin’s typical ailments range from dehydration, dryness, photodamage, inflammation and aging. Many scientific studies support the role nutrition plays in these key areas.

    Dryness
    A lack of either lipid content or water content means rough, flaky and vulnerable skin. A diet rich in essential fatty acids can help skin retain its organized brick-and-mortar model. Dietary fats are processed by the liver for delivery to skin and other tissues. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are essential for skin function and can even modulate the skin’s inflammatory response. Chronically dry skin, as in Eczema, will benefit from a diet rich in EFAs from oils and whole foods. In particular, Omega-3 fatty acids can help protect skin from photodamage and photoaging, while Omega-6 can alleviate symptoms associated with skin sensitivity and inflammatory skin disorders.

    Stock your grocery basket with:
    • Wild-caught salmon
    • Flaxseeds
    • Walnuts
    • Evening Primrose Oil
    • Borage Oil

    Photodamage
    As we know, the sun is a powerful star. UV rays penetrate through clouds, windows and our own skin layers. UV rays deplete antioxidant levels in the skin, including ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E). A diet rich in these antioxidant vitamins can be part of a well-rounded approach to limiting photodamage. An added bonus to vitamin C? It is also a necessary component of building collagen in the skin, which decreases with age and even more so with sun damage. Like many nutrients, some are even better when combined. Supplementing the diet with Vitamin C and E combined can increase the photoprotective effect of our skin better than with either of these alone.

    Stock your grocery basket with:
    • Bell peppers
    • Broccoli
    • Strawberries
    • Wheat germ
    • Avocados

    Our skin is a unique organ in that we can actually rub nutrients on top of it! So even though the upper epidermal layers of the skin do not contain blood vessels that supply the cells with nutrients, we can ‘feed’ the skin from the outside, with topical antioxidants and vitamins. Combining topical nutrients with a more conscious effort to eat whole, healthy foods will keep our skin shining for all the years to come!

  • The Perfect Winter Skin Care Regimen

    As the colder days draw near and we look forward to crisp winter walks and cozy nights by the fire, our skin may indeed take a down turn. I for one have a skin that does not take well to the harsher climates and I have to switch to a different skin care regimen in order to come out the other side looking a little less than an over dried prune! While many of us experience itching, dryness and redness, the key change occurring at this time of year is a reduced barrier function in our skin. This leaves skin vulnerable to extreme sensitivity and redness that, if not checked, can result in permanently dilated capillaries and inflammation.

    So here are my top tips to share with clients, or to adopt in the treatment room, for the perfect winter skin regimen:

    • Cleansing the skin properly is the first step in strategic care. Alkaline soaps and hot water set sensitization into motion. Switch to an extremely gentle, sulfate-free, non-stripping gel or cream cleanser which will fortify the protective barrier function without leaving a residue. If you find that even water makes skin sensitive, use a cleanser that may be removed with tissue or a soft cloth. Ingredients to look for in this type of cleanser include Raspberry, soothing Cucumber, a rich source of phytochemicals (including Ellagic Acid that acts as an antioxidant) and Panthenol (Provitamin B5), which helps to regenerate tissues.

    • A spritz of calming spray is a perfect, day-long salve. The newest and most effective formulas now contain cocktails of not only anti-inflammatory agents such as Avena Sativa, but ingredients to fight neurogenic inflammation, such as Red Hogweed. Ginger and Bisabolol (derived from Chamomile), when combined, work synergistically to reduce inflammation-induced itch, redness and irritation. Combine this with Red Hogweed, which targets neurogenic inflammation by limiting the production of pro-inflammatory agents such as prostaglandins, and you have a complete system to target inflammation.

    • Chapped and sensitive skins that are fond of exfoliating may use an ultra-gentle exfoliant, only on the condition that the lipid barrier is not damaged. In this case, recommend an ultrafine product which delicately polishes fragile skin with microparticles of rice bran and rice enzymes. Also note that even conventional washcloths and towels can irritate sensitized skin; recommend a high-tech, microfiber sponge cloth for cleanser and masque removal.

    • Masques are especially helpful for winter skin since the prolonged effects of a calming and hydrating weekly treatment may deliver lasting results. Use after gentle exfoliation to either the whole face or on spot areas that require instant soothing. Key ingredients to look for include pharmaceutical grade Colloidal Oatmeal, Red Hogweed and Mushroom (Cordyceps Sinesis) extract that reduce short and long term inflammation and redness. Mugwort (Artemesia Vulgaris) and algae extracts also soothe irritation and provide a light film to reduce redness from ultraviolet (UV) exposure and chemical irritants.

    • A concentrated booster can be the needed “brakes” on runaway inflammation and barrier dysfunction. Look for serums containing the latest newcomer Acetyl Tetrapeptide-15, a peptide that reduces discomfort and pain by lowering pro-inflammatory mediators in the skin that are associated with neurogenic inflammation. Also recommended: Portulaca Oleraca Extract Lipids, Sunflower Seed, Evening Primrose and Avocado Oils to reinforce the barrier lipid layer that keeps environmental chemicals from penetrating the skin.

    • Moisturizers and UV protection are also essential during winter to protect against dehydration and free radical damage. It may be necessary to switch to a richer formula as weather cools and central heating takes its toll. A medium-to-heavy weight product works best, to form a substantial layer of lipid barrier protection and humectant hydration around tenderized areas like cheeks, nostrils, or any other hot spots. Use a physical sunscreen rather than a chemical sunscreen if sensitivity is an issue.

    It is always wise to complete a thorough skin analysis and fresh consultation at the start of the winter season in order to provide sound advice on which products will help your customer not only survive the ravages of winter, but emerge with a hydrated and calm skin!

  • Roses are Red… and Great for Your Skin!

    I have a favorite cream colored, climbing rose in my garden that, last summer so generous in its bounty, gave me three rounds of fresh scented blooms and many evenings of pleasure seated beneath it engrossed in a good book. The fragrance of Rose evokes images of warm summer days in English country gardens, but this beautiful flower holds more great benefits than just its fragrance.

    The 17th-century English physician Culpeper wrote that red roses strengthen the heart. He may have been referring to a physical action, but anyone who has inhaled fresh roses or their essential oil knows the aroma strengthens the heart spiritually and emotionally as well. Used in medicines, for perfume and in culinary creations, the rose holds many talents but not least in its long standing respected use in skin care products.

    Both the flower and the hip provide an excellent source of Vitamin C, Beta Carotene and Lycopene, all of which are important antioxidants to fight aging and regenerate healthy skin cells. Rich in essential fatty acids, this lightweight oil also helps to restore an impaired skin barrier caused by aging, stress, incorrect product use and dry environments. Historically reported to be used for skin healing, eczema and scarring, Rose Hip contains natural Retinoic Acid constituents that will again stimulate repair and regeneration. Best applied overnight in a pre-blended serum, a dry and itchy skin will be left feeling soft and luminous by morning. The benefits of the humble rose date back many hundreds of years. Long may it continue to soothe our senses and repair and rejuvenate our skins, giving us such joy in our gardens.

  • Lip and Hand Treatments for Winter!

    Bettina ZammertIt could be so nice: relaxing walks through romantic snow-covered landscapes, and cozy evenings at home in front of a crackling fire. If only it weren’t for your tight, itchy skin – you’ve even had to stop wearing your favorite winter sweater with the lovely big roll neck because all of a sudden it has started to scratch!
    Constantly changing between the freezing cold and dry heating air is a real trial for the skin. As the thermometer drops, the skin slows down its oil production – and sadly this also applies to skin that was not producing enough lipids before. Often, extremely dry skin also has a restricted skin barrier, which in turn increases the skin’s sensitivity.

    In this case your customer will need your help – and you might have to change his recommended products to ones with higher lipid content. And during the professional treatment, don’t forget the areas of the body that are particularly sensitive and permanently exposed to the weather. A helpful hint: offer a special lip and/or hand treatment in winter. Start by exfoliating (use a very gentle product on the lips), then apply a moisturizing serum and a mask on top. If you like, you can perform a few massage or lymphatic drainage movements while the mask is working. At the end of the treatment, be sure to remember the finishing moisturizer, and recommend the appropriate special products for treating winter-dry skin to the customer.

    And then it won’t be long before your clients (and their skin) are enjoying the crisp, cold winter weather again!

  • A New Year’s Resolution for the Healthiest of Skin!

    With the holiday and New Year celebrations taking their toll on our skin, now is the time to talk damage recovery with your clients. Those late night parties, traveling and even stress can reveal themselves on the skin well after the holidays have gone bye-bye. Make sure your clients reign in the new year with these healthy skin resolutions.

    1. When your clients look in the mirror and their skin is shouting “I’m tired!” give it a great pick-me-up by using a skin brightening microfoliation containing Rice Bran Powder, which will create a fantastic luminosity to the skin. Follow with a 10 minute “super skin feed” using a multivitamin face masque. Once the masque is removed, apply a skin firming booster. The organic silicones in this type of product act like an invisible “support tight” over the skin and the mesh-like base also creates a super canvas for a great make-up application.

    2. Since alcohol is so dehydrating to the body and makes the skin more sensitized, make sure your clients carry a calming mist in their bag. This will not only add much needed hydration to the skin’s surface but it will also calm and reduce the redness. It can be easily spritzed over make-up.

    3. When nights out become mornings after and skin looks dry and dull, treat it to an overnight, oil-based serum to replenish lost lipids and moisture and rebuild collagen. Apply in the evening and let the essential oils work with the body’s own circadian rhythms to leave skin silky soft and luminous.

    4. How to handle the tell-tale dark circles around the eyes? In Chinese medicine, shadows under eyes are indicative of stress on the kidneys and liver (which makes sense after lots of parties and late nights). You can’t instantly get rid of dark circles, but helping the body detox, rest and revitalize through good nutrition and exercise will all help greatly. For a temporary quick fix, use products that contain anti-inflammatories and optical light diffusers, which are often combined in a light concealer make-up base and act as a multitude of ‘microscopic mirrors’ that deflect the light and decrease shadow lines.

    Here’s to a New Year’s resolution for the healthiest of skin!

  • Cold Weather and Skin – a Dangerous Combination!

    Sharon MaxwellAre you suffering with that winter itch, the kind where you want to just scratch your skin off?! The skin becomes dry and irritated as we face wind, central heating and low humidity. The harsh weather can strip the skin’s natural protective barrier, creating gaps in the outer most Stratum Corneum layer, allowing water to escape (dehydration) and irritants to get in (sensitivity). The dry environment may be responsible for the itchy sensations, as the inflammatory response kicks in and releases histamines. It can exacerbate inflammatory skin diseases such as rosacea, eczema, ichthyosis, and psoriasis, which suffer an impaired barrier function. Just like the eyelids, the skin on the lips is extra thin and sensitive, which can suffer greatly during the harsh winters, resulting in dry cracked, sore lips. The winter dryness looks bleak, but what can we do to alleviate these symptoms? Try this:

    • Back to Basics – start with a creamy, soap-free, acid balanced cleanser, a hydrating spritz with humectants, and a protective moisturizer with SPF15-30.
    • Supplement with a hydrating serum or masque that includes a high dose of Hyaluronic Acid (which holds 1000 x its own weight in water).
    • Target sensitized skin with calming complexes such as oats, Bisabolol, Ginger and Red Hogweed, which reduce those uncomfortable sensations.
    • Treat skin while you sleep with a peptide serum rich in Argan Oil that provides fatty acids, plant sterols, Vitamin E and Ferulic Acid to reinforce the barrier lipid layer.
    • Reduce the temperature of your bath and shower, use bath oils, and apply body moisturizer immediately after your shower (within 3 minutes).
    • Do not over bathe, over strip, and be too harsh with the skin. Treat it gently and with respect!
    • Avoid licking lips, as digestive enzymes and bacteria in saliva can damage the lips. Use a nourishing lip balm with Shea Butter and Avocado.

  • Oh, the Weather Outside is Frightful!

    Holly SherrardOh the weather outside is frightful… at least in the Canadian great white north! Chapped lips, flaky skin, dehydration and sensitization are all symptoms people face when the temperature drops. When clients seek our advice to treat their winter skin, it gives us the chance to create insanely great treatments and alleviate uncomfortable skin conditions!

    So what can you do during a winter skin treatment? Start by offering clients a warm drink upon arrival, such as an herbal tea or mulled cider in celebration of the holiday season. Heated neck pillows, which soothe muscular stress from holiday shopping bags and alleviate cold winter chills, are perfect to get clients relaxed. They may also enjoy changing into a heated wrap, robe and slippers before climbing into a warmed bed.

    During the treatment, we must always customize according to what skin conditions we see – skin treatments are not one-size-fits-all. When it comes to exfoliation for example, consider your options. Professional exfoliation removes dull surface cells and prepares the skin for optimal penetration of active ingredients. Mechanical exfoliants remove surface flakes, while chemical exfoliants, such as Lactic Acid, have multiple effects such as increasing hydration and decreasing pigmentation.

    For skin that is sensitized, use ingredients such as Red Hogweed, Oat Kernel and Ginger to reduce inflammation and redness. To reinforce the barrier lipid layer, look for Colloidal Oatmeal, Evening Primrose and Borage Seed oils.

    Massage techniques will vary according to clients’ needs and wants. Although a deep, stress-relieving massage may feel wonderful on a dry, aging skin, a sensitized skin will benefit more from Chinese Acupressure. No matter the method of massage chosen, keep in mind the physiological and psychological benefits of touch – decreased stress and anxiety, positive effects on brain waves, breathing and immunity and pain reduction. Our touch is the perfect gift for a client to receive.

    Body treatments should include ingredients like Ginger and Wasabi, which have warming and anti-inflammatory properties and plant oils like Olive and Grape seed to minimize evaporation of water, which can lead to body chills.

    We never want a client to feel like they have simply been steamed and creamed with lotions and potions, so it is important that we leave them with home care advice to maintain excellent results from the treatment. Be sure they know about these important steps for at-home treatment of their skin:

    • Dry body brushing is one of the best ways to remove dead, dry skin cells, improve lymphatic circulation and increase cell turnover. This technique should be done daily in the direction of lymphatic flow.

    • Shower once every other day and use warm (not hot) water. Use mild cleansers only on necessary areas, and minimize the length of time in the shower or bath. While skin is still wet, apply conditioning oils such as Vitamin E, Grape Seed, Olive, Kukui Nut or Apricot Seed Oil to prevent water loss. Follow with a rich moisturizer with conditioning ingredients such as silicones, Shea Butter, and Evening Primrose Oil.

    • For clients experiencing dryness and dehydration on the face, ensure they use a mild, acid-balanced cleanser. Layer hydrating ingredients onto the skin such as a toner enriched with Hyaluronic Acid, a serum or concentrate to minimize inflammation, a moisturizer and daylight protection.

    • Drinking plenty of water will maintain hydration levels internally; however it does not always solve epidermal dehydration.

    When the holiday bustle leaves our clients feeling overwhelmed or stressed, make your environment delightful and ‘let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!’

  • Oil or Water – an Old Dilemma!

    annet croppedOne of the biggest areas that consumers, beauty editors and even some skin therapists can get muddled over is the misconception surrounding dry and dehydrated skin. More often than not, clients complain that their skin is dry, when really it’s dehydrated. This often results in the wrong product and/or treatment recommendation.

    When you consider that a dry skin (lacking oil/alipoid) can also be dehydrated (lacking in water), and oily skin, which has an abundance of oil, can also be dehydrated, eyes can roll back and heads start to spin! Feel dizzy yet? The fact is that there are some significant differences between the two and because of that, there’s a prime opportunity to educate clients and adjust their regimen.

    Oil and WaterSo how do we decipher the difference?

    Generally, we all suffer from dehydration; the body, after all, is about 75% water and a perfect target for moisture zapping environments. If unaddressed, dehydration can also lead to increased skin sensitivity and inflammation. In the case of oily skin, it can lead to an actual increase in more sebum production. Yep, that alcohol in the drugstore acne product dried your skin out and then made your breakouts worse. But dehydration is a skin condition and can affect any skin type. It’s caused by multiple factors that you should verbally cross check while conducting your consultation or when retailing. For example:

    • Environment: Low humidity, warm and cold weather, air conditioning, sun exposure and flight travel.

    • Products: Stripping cleansers and toners, over exfoliation and makeup.

    • Diet & Lifestyle: Medications, high sodium foods, lack of water consumption, caffeine, soda intake and of course alcohol.

    Dehydrated skin is thirsty skin and needs to be rehydrated while vital moisture is locked in. Start by recommending the following: Gel or cream cleanser; Gentle, daily exfoliant; Hydrating spritz toner; Gel-based masques and concentrated serums with Hyaluronic Acid to layer beneath a medium weight moisturizer.

    True dry skin is a genetic skin type and is not confined to face and hands but experienced over the entire body. The sebaceous glands are smaller and under-active, and the follicle opening is tight and fine. Lines will be more evident, and in winter months the extremities will be itchy and flaky.

    Ask your clients who complain of dry skin whether they experience this even in their hair and scalp. This skin requires oil-rich emollient products to nourish and stimulate. You can recommend: Creamy cleansers; Antioxidant packed toners; Full body exfoliation; Replenishing vitamin-based serums; Eye products and heavy weight moisturizers.

    Whatever the skin dilemma, we welcome it with open arms, hands, eyes and ears! This is our unique role as professional skin therapists—who else can truly guide clients and consumers to their healthiest skin?